Provoking Discipleship and the Tag Office

I’ve got a new friend, Zack Nicholson, who uses the word “provoke” a lot, and I like it. I’ve started using it myself because it is so interesting.

So, I went to the Tag Office this morning to renew my license plate for another year. It was an eventful morning at the Tag Office. A bird flew into the office and got in line to do some title work… it was awesome.

I pulled into the parking lot at 7:00AM so I could get a good spot in line. There were already a few cars in the parking lot, but the people decided to stay in those cars because of the “bit” of chill in the morning air. In the warm summer months, people would already be lining up, waiting an hour before the door is unlocked and the office is open for business.

So, I decided to provoke everyone in the parking lot. Instead of staying in my car, I started the line at the door, just to see what would happen. Sure enough, much to everyone else’s chagrin, a line started to form 45 minutes before the door opened.

But some cool things happened in that line.

Some elderly folks talked about sports with a young, strange whippersnapper (me) in line next to them.

A father who accompanied his daughter to help her through the process of the title work for her first car was given the chance to go buy his daughter a warm breakfast while she sat in line.

A couple of friends who did not realize that both of them were in the same line were able to catch up on life, because, after all, there is was nothing else that one could do in that long line.

In short, sometimes a depressing (sarcasm) situation like the Tag Office visit can be hijacked by joy and amusement.

One of the things that the Christian community could do well is to be “provokers,” to create an atmosphere where we expect that God is up to something in the world because Jesus is the crucified and risen Messiah of Israel and the world’s one Lord. Christian discipleship is filled with “Come follow me” and “Go and do likewise” invitations. Christianity is an “observing” faith, but not in the removed, casual sense, but in the “observe all that I have commanded” idea. It takes guts to follow Jesus because we are provoked to reconsider all that we have known (repentance) and to mimic the way of Jesus. (holiness)

Perhaps our churches should be examined for how much they provoke their participants to engage this world and not giving reasons to avoid it.

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